Clara Anna Fontein – a radically transformed ‘safe space’?

Clara Anna Fontain [Cape Archives: Elliott Collection]

Clara Anna Fontein – a radically transformed ‘safe space’?

by Mansell Upham

Arthur Elliott (New York City 1870–Cape Town 20 November 1938)

Arthur Elliott[1] must’ve seen the future.  And how could he like what he saw?  One can see right through his Clara Anna Fontein lens … and portals – one that assuredly leads to a decolonized nether lala-land of desolation … But see what we have here! A post-colonial, gentrified renaissance, to be sure …

One website[2] welcomes us into an inclusive and brave world of New-normal – “Durbanville’s most exclusive lifestyle security estate”.  And Clara Anna Fontein’s history is conveniently reconfigured.  Dumbed down.  Framed, as it were. A ‘safe space’ … a wokist’s wet-dream, you might wonder …:

What’s in the name?

Some time ago … a gentleman by the name of Hendrik Olivier married the young Beatrix Verwey van Woerden, and they began their life together on a beautiful farm in bountiful Durbanville.

A few years later, Hendrik tragically passed away and Beatrix became the owner of the farm – and the first female farmer in the Cape. Before Hendrik Olivier’s passing, they were blessed with a beautiful daughter called Anna, born around the same time they started farming in this area! Shortly thereafter, they were blessed with a second daughter, called Clara, translated as Klare in Dutch, meaning clear. And the Fontein? Well, there is in fact a fountain on the land that flows strongly to this day!

To be sure: 

No daughter named Clara ever existed.[3]  Olivier is anything but a gentleman.  He (from Owerkerk[4]) and his future mother-in-law Trijn Gansevanger (from Harmelen in’t sticht van Utrecht), hardy hillbilly pioneering types, are convicted of livestock theft.[5]  The couple start out on a farm in the Liesbeeck valley and their buijtenplaets only becomes available to them by 1701 where it is mentioned as being occupied with ownership not yet formalized.[6]  The farm is then granted (1702) to Olivier’s widow and its name is not found recorded during the duration of her ownership. 

Beatrix sells the farm to Michiel Heyns Jr. whose father (from Leipzig) is, not only the founding father of the Heyns family in South Africa, but who also marries into a slave dynasty of sorts.  His mother is Maria Schalks: (1663-1700) – none other than the Company slave-born Eurafrican who is seconded to the slave-descended Commander (later Governor) Simon van der Stel and daughter of one of the Cape’s earliest imported slaves – the Ethiopian slave woman Koddo aka Cornelia Arabus van Abissina, fathered by Willem Schalksz: van der Merwe – the founding father of the ubiquitous Van der Merwe family in South Africa. His parents baptize him Michiel Africanus thereby affirming their inextricable ties to the African continent and defying (unbeknownst to them) current attempts to ‘de-Africanize’ non-Bantu-speaking South Africans. His father, starts out a wealthy man, but pays dearly for his loyalty to the Van der Stels.

It is during the time of his ownership that we find the farm recorded as Clara Anna Fontein.[7]  He marries a double niece of the farm’s previous owner, Aletta Olivier.  She is the daughter of Ockert Cornelisz: Olivier and Aletta (Aeltie) Gijsberts: Verwey.  Her father (when still a knecht) commits adultery and spawns two bastard children by his master’s wife who become established ancestors in their own right. His besmirched offspring are mostly relegated to a subaltern colonial space in which they are left to intermingle with freed slaves.

But what about Clara Fontein?  And just who, by the way, is Clara Anna

A cursory trek into our written up colonial past and falling back on whatever I have been able to salvage over half a century of relentless digging, have exorcised some tantalizing Cape ghosts of yore.

There was indeed one contemporary person actually recorded and known as Clara Anna:  she was Clara Anna Harting (1706-1776)

Baptised (1 August 1706), she is the daughter of Maria (Marritie) Beyer[8] by her 1st husband Johann (Jan) Harmensz: Harting (from Paderborn).  She is also step-daughter to Jacob Frey / Vrey / Vry (from Solz), a farmer at Welgelegen, Bottelary, Stellenbosch; and after his death (1719), the step-daughter of Hans de SmitHans Jacob Conterman(n) / Konterman [Gundermann] (from Hadamar in Hesse-Nassau), widow of Anna Catharina Cleef, owner of the farm Vryburg at Bottelary, Groote Zalze and Vredenburgh at Stellenbosch and Cloetenburg (Portion 1 of Vergelegen) at the Hottentots-Holland [Somerset West], heemraad of Stellenbosch, lessee of wine and brandy licence for Stellenbosch and Drakenstein, who dies 11 August 1734.

Marritie Beyer is of interest – especially now that colonial slavery, ideologically reconfigured as a retroactive ‘crime against humanity’, is fast becoming increasingly politically triggered

She is the daughter of the freed, patronymic-less, Cape-born Eurafrican Company slave Catharina (Catrijn) Wagenmakers: and her husband the retired Company wagonmaker Andreas Bayer / Beyer aus Saxen.  Her mother features in the written record, not only insisting on her freedom as a half-caste and nursing the moribund daughter and infant (both named Catharina) of the free-black Anthonij Jansz: de Later van Bengale, but also for having her brothel summarily shut down.[9] 


Although we cannot link Clara Anna Harting (1706-1776) directly to Clara Anna Fontein, the proximity of Clara Anna Fontein to the farm Contermanskloof begs further investigation.  There is one problem, however.  The farm now known as Contermanskloof, and granted originally (1706) to the founder of the Slabber / Slabbert family, Floris Slabbert, is actually registered under the name Kliprug.  No explanation has been found as to why the farm came to be known as Contermanskloof.[10]  In all likelihood, the present-day farm presumably takes its name from the kloof of that name which again, in all probability, is named after Hans de Smit, the heemraad who features prominently during the free-burgher struggle to remove Governor W.A. van der Stel who may have grazed his cattle in the area.  Significantly – but perhaps also just coincidentally, 1706 is the year of Clara Anna Hartings’s birth and the same year that Contermanskloof is granted in private ownership.

Contermanskloof farmstead (1948) in possession of Mr Robert Starke) [ARCHAEOLOGICAL / HISTORICAL RESEARCH REPORT: The farm “Contermanskloof”–portion 5 of the farm Kliprug No 198 Administrative District of the Cape]

Clara Anna Harting (1706-1776)

She is wife to Michiel Smuts (1702-1790) – in later years known as Michiel Smuts d’Oude, the youngest son of the progenitors of the Smuts family, Michiel Cornelisz: Smuts aka Michiel Ariaensen (from Loon-op-Zand, Brabant) and Cornelia Emael (from Simpelvelt, Limburg).[11]  In his lifetime Michiel Smuts d’Oude was adsistent, bookkeeper, Commissioner of Civil and Marriage Affairs, deacon, burgher–lieutenant, burgher ensign, 1st lieutenant of the Invalides, and one of the largest landowners and richest inhabitants of Cape Town.  Of their nine children, the son Michiel Smuts (1730-1760), and his armigerous brother Johannes Smuts (1746-1809) and the daughter Maria Smuts (born 1748) – 2nd wife to Ds. Christiaan Fleck (1756-1820) whose property later houses Cape Town’s famous landmark hotel, the Mount Nelson, are particularly noteworthy.

House of Rev. Christiaan Fleck (1795) by Dirk de Jong [MuseumAfrica]

It is the eldest son of Clara Anna Harting (1706-1776)Michiel Smuts (1730-1760) – who is brutally murdered (14 July 1760) together with his wife Susanna de Cock [de Kock] and little son Michiel Smuts, at their place Rheezicht.


Smuts Family Murders[12]

Official reaction to the murders is summed up the following day in the Council of Policy’s resolution (15 July 1760):

CA: C 138, pp. 348-353.

Dingsdag den 15 Julij 1760.

S’ voormiddags alle Present.

Dewijl eenige fugative en bij een gerotte Slaaven, die Zig een tijd lang hier omstreex de Tafel en windberg hebben opgehouden, tot die gruwelijke en overgegeevene boosheijd Zijn uijtgespat, om gisteren avond tusschen agt en Neegen uuren, den boekhouder Michiel Smuts, neevens desselfs huijsvrouw en een kleijn kind derselver, op d’ allerontmenschte wijze om ‘t leeven te brengen; en dat tot attrappeering dier booswigten, bereijts differente reijsen eenige manschappen uijt gesonden geweest zijnde,

Sonder deselve te hebben kunnen magtig werden, men dienvolgens met Reeden moet Suspicieeren, dat deselve met andere ondeugende Slaven, en wel de Sogen: houthaalders een ongeoorloofde Correspondentie voerende, van deselve hun onderhoud koomen t’ erlangen;

Is dierhalven, ten eijnde gem:[elde] boosdoenders de middelen af te snijden, waar door Zyl: nog langer Zouden kunnen vagabondeeren, en deselve des t’ eerder in handen te krijgen, goedgevonden, aan een ijgelijk Sonder onderscheijd bij affixie van billietten t’ interdiceeren en verbieden, om geene van haare Slaven tot het haalen van brandhout of om eenige andere Reedenen, naer de voorsz: hier omstreex leggende of andere gebergtens hoegenaamt uijt te Senden, op Pœne dat de meesters van Sodanige slaaf of Slaven die aldaar Sullen werden gevonden, niet alleen Zullen weesen vervallen in een boete van Een Hondert rijxd:s, maar dat ook dusdanige Slaven aan den Lijve Zullen werden gestraft;

Terwijl om d’ Ingeseeten in opzigt van hun benoodigt brandhout egter Soo veel moogelijk Zij, buijten verleegentheijd te Stellen, tot weederseggens toe, aan deselve Zal werden gepermitteerd, het voorsz: brandhout te moogen doen haalen, in de vlaktens over ‘t Zoute Rivier.

Boven het welke nog verstaan is, dat van ‘t vallen van den Avond af, tot soo lange het maar eenigsints duijster Zal Zijn, Sig Geene Slaaven op Straat Zullen moogen laaten vinden,

Sonder een Ligtend’ Lantaarn bij Zig te hebben, op Pœne van Vijf en Twintig Rijxdaalders boete voor den Meester, en dat Sodanigen slaaf bovens dien Scherpelijk Zal werden gecorrigeert.

Sijnde laatstelijk op het diesweegens gedaane versoek door Burgerraaden deeser Plaatse nog verstaan, dat bij de manschappen die uijt deese Caabse Burgerije, tot opsoeking der meergem:[elte] fugativen Zijn gecommandeert, vier militairen uijt dit guarnisoen, Sullen werden gevoegd, ten eijnde ingevalle gem: booswigten Zig in eenige der in ‘t gebergte leggende Spelonken mogten onthouden, deselve als dan met het werpen van handgranaten daar uijt te drijven: terwijl aan gem:[elte] gecommandeerde manschappen nog 5: à 6: ‘S[ijn] E[dele] Comp: leijfeijgenen tot het dragen van derselver Provisien Sullen werden bijgeset.

Aldus Geresolveerd ende Gearresteerd. In ‘t Casteel de goede Hoop Ten Daage en Jaare Voorsz:
R Tulbagh
P:V: Reede van Oudshoorn
I: Meinertzhagen
R S Allemann
C Brand
D:d D’ Aillij
P: Hacker
O M Bergh R:t en Secret:s

And again by a 2nd resolution (17 July 1760):

CA: C 138, pp. 354-359.

Donderdag den 17 Julij 1760.

S’ voormiddags alle Present.

Op heeden in nadere overweeging genoomen weesende, van hoe grooten aangeleegentheijd het voor de rust en veijligheijd Soo van d’ ingeseetenen deeser Plaats, als die van ‘t Platte land komt te weesen, dat het bewuste, Zig bereijts aan moord en Roof Schuldig gemaakt hebbend’ Complot fugative Slaaven, spoediglijk agterhaald en uijtgeroeijd werd;

Is dierhalven verstaan, aan een ijder Sonder onderscheijd voor elk der voorsz: booswigten, die Zij dood of leevendig Sullen kunnen magtig worden, een Premie van Vijf en Twintig Rijxd:s uijt S’ E: Comp: Cassa toe te leggen.

Terwijl voorts ook noodsakelijk geoordeelt en dienvolgens beslooten is, dat bij ampliatie van het op eergisteren geaffigeerd’ billiet aan alle ende een ijgelijk deeser ingeseetenen op ‘t Scherpste Sal werden gelast en aanbevoolen, dat zij hunne Slaven tot het haalen van brandhout op de thans vergunde plaats koomende uijt te Senden, deselve alvoorens Zullen moeten voorsien, van een briefje, inhoudende de naamen der meesters, en op welken datum Zij deselve uijtsenden, welk briefje wijders niet alleen dagelijx vernieuwd, maar ook telkens, wanneer de Slaven met het hout van buijten opkomen, door deselve aan den Sergeant van de Patrouille wagt sal moeten werden afgegeeven; ten welken eijnde deselve dan ook geen anderen weg als voorbij de voorsz: Patrouille wagt Zullen moogen passeeren; op Pœne dat de Slaven die van geen behoorlijk briefje Zullen voorsien Zijn, immediaat aangehouden en aan de dienaaren der Justitie Sullen werden overgegeeven, om vervolgens Strengelijk te werden gecorrigeert, terwijl derselver Leijfheeren daar en boven ook zullen vervallen Zijn, in een boete van Vijf en Twintig rijd:s welke Pœnaliteijten inselvervoegen Sullen plaats hebben, ingevalle eenige der voorsz: houthaelders sullen werden geattrappeerd, dat Zij naar buijten gaande of van daar te rug koomende, een anderen weg als hier bevoorens is geordonneert, Sullen hebben genomen.

Gelijk al verder verstaan is, om bij renovatie der bevoorens deesen aangaande gestatueerde beveelen, een ijgelijk soo S’ Comp:s dienaaren als burgeren, wel expresselijk t’ ordonneeren, dat wanneer ijmand eenige slaaf of Slaven, maar even buijten deese Plaats of de buijten luijden van haare wooningen naar de Caab of elders komen af te Senden, om een boodschap of iets anders te verrigten, zij deselve telkens een briefje van dien eijgen dag gedateerd, Sullen meede geeven, met de naamen van derselver Lijfheer, vrouw ofte hun knegt onderteekend, en aanhaaling daar bij, waar heen Sodanigen slaaf gesonden werd, sullende andersints alle Slaaven die van geen diergelijk briefje voorsien Zijnde, Sullen worden gevonden, bij een ijgelijk als wegloopers mogen aangetast, en ‘t Zij aan den heer Independent Fiscaal of de resp: landdrosten opgebragt worden.

Aldus geresolveerd ende gearresteerd. In ‘t Casteel de goede hoop Ten Daage en Jaere voorsz:
R Tulbagh
P:V: Reede van Oudshoorn
I: Meinertzhagen
R S Allemann
C Brand
D:d D’ Aillij
P: Hacker
O M Bergh R:t en Secret:s

A commando finally rounds up the fugitive slaves (27 July 1760) in a skirmish in which the following slaves are killed or mortally wounded:

  • Fortuyn van Bugis and
  • Baatjoe van Bugis

Twelve slaves are captured and later executed:

  • Alexander van Bugis
  • September van Bugis
  • January van Bugis
  • July
  • Upas van Bugis
  • Achilles
  • Jacob van Madagascar
  • January van Macassar
  • Mandhaar van Macassar
  • Alexander van de Westcust

One slave is flogged and branded and placed 10 years in chains:

  • Cupidon van Bengalen and

One slave is granted his freedom and the owner re-imbursed for collaborating with the colonial authorities: 

  • Boone van Bugis (slaaf van den Duijkelaar Paulus Beek) [see Resolution (19 August 1760)]

The SMUTS Family murders of 1760 at the place later known as Rheezicht as narrated by Robert Ross and Sirtjo Koolhof … [13]

At a basic level of narrative, the events of the winter of 1760 were common enough, although the actions of the slaves were perhaps more violent and the reaction of the authorities more extreme than was general. A group of slaves, some with particular grievances against their masters and others who were drawn into the gang more or less by chance, had run away and gathered on Table Mountain, that more or less liberated zone which looked down on the Dutch city of Cape Town.

They were led by Fortuin van Bugis, a slave of the burgher Cornelis Verwey, who had injured his master in a quarrel some six months earlier and therefore had had to flee to avoid what would have been capital punishment.

They decided that they needed to flee first to Hanglip, a traditional haven for escaped slaves on the other side of False Bay, and from there to the independent African kingdoms several hundred kilometres to the East.

In order to accomplish this journey, they would need to be armed. Therefore, on the night of 14 July, they reconnoitred the house of Michiel Smuts, a 30-year old Cape-born married man with three living children, who was an assistant and bookkeeper in the VOC service, and had also been a burgher commissioner in Cape Town’s civil administration before entering the Company’s service. His house lay high in Table Valley, in the area of modern Cape Town known as the Gardens.

The runaways met one of Smuts’s own slaves, Alexander van de West Cust (of Sumatra) [sicAchilles Alexander is not listed in the inventory for Michiel Smuts and Susanna de Cock / de Kock – the information appears to derive from the testimony of one of the other gang members named Alexander who testifies against Achilles], who told them that he had long wanted to kill his master, primarily because he objected to the punishment he had received after failing to sell some vegetables on the market in Cape Town.

After this he had run away, and lived for four months at Hout Bay, down the Cape Peninsula. He had been captured, and presumably punished again, so that his grievances against Smuts were considerable. During the period when he was on the run, or possibly earlier, Alexander [sicAchilles] had come to know Fortuyn. Alexander [sic Achilles] did everything he could to facilitate the attack, and the other slaves around the house, notably one Batjoe van Bali, were too intimidated to raise the alarm.

The gang broke into the house. They found Smuts and his wife, Susanna de Cock [de Kock], sitting in one of the richly furnished rooms of his house – they owned no less that 25 paintings and many silver and gold ornaments. They killed the two of them, and also their five year old son, Michiel, who had been aroused from sleep by the struggle and begun to scream. They then took off with 3 flintlock guns, some powder and shot, and also clothes, silver spoons and jewelry and some food.

After the attack, during which one of them, Baatjoe van Bugis, was wounded in the hand, they moved off round the slopes of the mountain and down the Devil’s Peak, then known as the Windberg. They crossed the Salt River at Paarden Eiland, and went north to hide in the dunes behind Blauwberg. There they met September van Bugis, a 50-year old slave of the widow of Adriaan Heuning and a shepherd on the farm of Platte Kloof at the western end of the Tijgerberg. He had indeed met Fortuyn when both were slaves in Batavia. September, who had a reputation as a doctor, did up Baatjoe’s hand, and in general provided them with food from the farm for a few days. They also stole sheep and collected mussels on the beach.

After a while, they attempted to cross the Cape flats to the Hottentots-Holland mountains and Hanglip, although September remained behind.

Immediately after the attack on Smuts’s house, the Cape government began taking measures to combat a danger whose extent they could not yet estimate. In any event, were the perpetrators of such an attack to escape punishment, then the regime of repression by which the slave-owners of the Cape ultimately maintained their authority over their slaves would be under threat. In this, of course, they were no different from all slave-owners throughout the European colonies, and no doubt much more widely. Thoroughly aroused to the danger, as they saw it, they immediately issued a plakkaat forbidding Cape Town’s slave-owners from sending their slaves up the mountain in order to collect firewood. In this way the authorities hoped to cut off communication between the gang  and the slaves of the town, rightly seen as their source of provisions.

This edict proved to be too rigorous, as it would have cut the city off from its supplies of fuel, and caused hardship from the cold in the middle of the sharp Cape winter, as well as extinguishing and cooking fires, equally disrupting to normal life. As a result, the original edict was rescinded two days later, on 17 July, so as to permit slaves to go up the mountain, provided that they were issued with a suitable pass by their masters and showed this to the guard on the only road up the mountain which they were permitted to take. The instructions that slaves abroad at night in the town had to carry a lantern were reissued and strengthened. At the same time they offered a reward of 25 Rijksdaalders for information leading to the apprehension of the gang …

The gang’s journey across the Cape Flats was not successful.

First they were intercepted by a commando near the Blauwberg, and forced out of the hiding place they had adopted. From there they fled south-east, towards False Bay. However, they were unable, and perhaps unwilling, to avoid all contact with those slaves who were out in what were, ironically enough, known as the Maccasser dunes, near the tomb of Sheykh Yusuf. These slaves, who included one Boone van Bugis, were employed there as charcoal burners. They were robbed of their food and tobacco, but Boone was able to escape in the night, and brought information to Cape Town as to the gang’s whereabouts.

A commando was sent out after them, and on 27 July they were again attacked. In the ensuing fight, several members of the gang including both Fortuyn and Baatjoe van Bugis, were killed or mortally wounded.

Baatjoe, before he died, gave a considerable amount of information on the gang, including betraying September, who was later arrested and his personal chest searched. It was here that the letter was found. The others were brought to trial, condemned and 12 were executed, three of them –

  • Alexander [sic Achilles],
  • September and
  • January van Bugis

– with the extended punishments which the Dutch reserved for those who had committed particularly heinous crimes.

Achilles first had eight lumps of flesh removed with red-hot pincers before being broken on the wheel, January van Bugis and September were broken. None of these three received the coup de grâce to put them out of their misery.

January of Macassar was broken with the coup de grâce and the other nine were ‘merely’ hung.

Those who had been killed by the commando, or died in prison had their corpses quartered and distributed round the colony as a demonstration of Company power and a warning to other slaves.

Only one of those condemned, Cupido van Bengalen [sicvan Bougis according to his master`s inventory], whose participation had been minimal, escaped death, being flogged, branded and sentenced to spend 10 years in chains.

For his part in betraying the gang, Boone was granted his freedom, and his master reimbursed.

The details were of course different from other events, but the basic pattern – the actions of a band of slaves against a house or farm in the Cape Colony, the attempt to flee to the east, the brutal repression by the Cape authorities – was common enough. Nevertheless, the authorities suspected a Bugis plot, which would confirm their worst fears about the danger of this particular group of slaves.

They were not entirely mistaken.

Of the 15 members of the group whose names and origins are known, seven, including the leader, were described as ‘van Boegis’, and two others, Manus van Mandhaar and January van Macassar, came from the island of Sulawesi. The others, however, included a Sumatran, a man from Sumbawa, a Bengali, a man from the Malabar coast, a Malagasy and one born at the Cape, though this last could understand Malay, and perhaps a bit of Bugis.

Moreover, as we have seen, it was a Bugis, Boone, who betrayed the fugitives.

As a result of their fears, the Cape criminal investigators paid considerable attention to what they seemed to think of as a Bugis sub-culture in and around Cape Town. In particular, they questioned September, who they thought of as at the centre of a network, most thoroughly.

Two matters stand out in the report of his interrogation. The first is one of the very rare examples, at least as far as the Cape is concerned, of first-generation slaves attempting to build up, or to recreate, kinship relations. It is not so much that September had called Fortuyn his ‘brother’, even though he admitted to the interrogators that they did not have any actual family relationship. Rather, this was ‘the custom among the Buginese’. Equally, mainly because of his age, September was also addressed by the other slaves on Platte Kloof as ‘father’.

While September characterized the use of these kinship terms correctly as a Bugis custom, it is more widespread than that. It is a general custom of the peoples of the archipelago. In Malay, for example, we find the terms for father, mother and brother / sister generally used for addressing people of older or the same age as the speaker. On the other hand he had adopted January, a man from Macassar some 17 years younger than him, as his son. There are thus indications, slight though they are, that some slaves at least combatted the atomisation of their enslavement using idioms which they had brought with them from, in this case, the Indonesian archipelago.

The 2nd matter concerned the interrelated questions of September’s literacy … and his medical practice. He is described as ‘spitting on [Baatjoe’s] wound in the Buginese manner’, and then binding it up with a handkerchief. Furthermore, as was pointed out, the letter from Upas, just about the only letter written by a slave at the Cape which has survived, was found in his chest.

The SMUTS Family murders of 1760 at the place later known as Rheezicht as narrated by Karel Schoeman (relying on Margaret Cairns) …[14]

A case of extreme violence committed by deserters in the immediate vicinity of the town and arousing particular panic in the Table Valley was the murder of Michiel Smuts andd his family in 1760 by a band of 15 deserters belonging to various owners who had absconded at various times, joined forces on Table Mountainand and formed a group: Fortuijn van Boegies, a slave who had absconded after having wounded his master, Cornelis Verweij, with a knife, was elected as their leader. One of them was shot and killed when the group successfully resisted arrest, and another after he had tried to steal a sheep from the kraal of Jacob van Reenen (1727-1793), but the remaining 13 intended escaping to ‘the land of the Caffers [Transkei].

Jacob van Reenen (1727-1793)

Among the group there was one Cupido van Boegies, who suggested that they obtain arms for themselves before leaving by robbing and killing his former master, Michiel Smuts, whose house was conveniently isolated. Cupido moreover was able to obtain the active co-operation of another of Smut`s slaves, Achilles van de Westkust, who had a grievance against Smuts, having absconded after being ‘scolded for failing to sell his master`s produce in the town’. As Margaret Cairns remarks: `What form the scolding had taken was not divulged, but in view of the escape and the aftermath it is felt that it was rather more than verbal`. ‘Yes!’, Achilles is alleged to have declared, ‘I`ve been wanting to kill my master for a long time, and now he`s going to die!’


Smuts, a Company official with the rank of Bookkeeper, lived with his wife and their three children in one of the so-called gardens on the slopes above the town, on the site of the of the present Rheezicht in Gorge Road, in the modern suburb of Oranjezicht, where he seems to have farmed on a modest scale, and the probate inventory of his estate provides some interesting information on the life of these well-to-do petty landowners on the outskirts of the town. The family’s house consisted of four rooms and a kitchen, and on the premises there were a barn and a stable, as well as two horses, a saddle horse, three cows, a cart and gardening equipment. Finally, Smuts owned seven male slaves, two women and three ‘boys’; but in the inventory the name Cupido van Boegies was subsequently annotated `Absent`, and still later `Killed by the commando`, and that of Agillis van Nias, elsewhere called Achilles van de Westkust, `Sentenced to death`, these being the two who had taken part in the murder.

One Winter evening after dark, when only an elderly slave called Baatjoe van Bali seems to have been in attendance, the murderers entered the house by the kitchen and burst into the voorhuis, which appears to have been in use as a living and reception room in the old-fashioned style, the contents including 13 chairs and two tables, besides porcelain, paintings, a pipe rack, tea-and coffeemaking equipment and two birdcages. In this domestic setting Smuts, who was busy writing, was killed, together with his wife seated beside him and a little boy who was asleep on a chair, after which the murdered robbed the house, taking guns, powder, lead, clothing, linen and silver spoons, and fled to the Blaauwberg dunes with their booty. It is not clear where the other slaves were, or the remaining two Smuts children [Susanna Margaretha Smuts and Servaas Josias Smuts], who were respectively three years and five months old and survived.

Achilles later declared that he had intended to kill only his master, not his mistress and the child. ‘In addition to the fatal stab wounds’, notes Mrs Cairns, however, `both parents had other serious injuries from different types of weapons which indicated more than one killer`, which seems to indicate a good deal of accumulated resentment, if not against Smuts personally, then against the slave-owning class they represented in general.

The Council of Policy was naturally horrified by these events, and probably not only by the murders themselves but also the fact that they had occurred so near to the town and the castle, presenting a shameless challenge to authority represented by the latter. It met on the day after the killings, and again two days later, to fire off a set of prohibitions against slaves being sent to fetch wood in the mountains, where the deserters had taken refuge, and stipulating once again that slaves sent out by their masters should be provided with a note to identify them and after dark should carry a lighted lantern.

The deserters were pursued, and all of them either killed during the pursuit or after capture, or else tried and sentenced to death. With regard to the two men who had belonged to Smuts, Cupido was killed by the commando sent out after the slaves, as noted in the inventory, while Achilles was sentenced to have pieces of his flesh pinched in eight places with red-hot pincers, and afterwards to be broken on the cross without the coup de grâce.

[1] Arthur Elliott (New York City 1870–Cape Town 20 November 1938) – South African photographer who records the architecture and daily life of the Cape taking over 10,000 photographs of Cape Dutch architecture, creating an unrivalled pictorial record of early 20th century buildings at the Cape.


[3] They have the following children:

(1) Gysbert (1678-1730)

(2) Cornelis (1679-1713)

(3) Cornelia (Neeltie) baptised 21 September 1681 – she is the victim of an attempted rape by her convicted maternal grandmother’s slave Robbert van Batavia; marries (1stly) Cent Jantz: (from Leiden), widower and master gardener; marries (2ndly) Christiaan Sprigt (4) Johannes (Jan) baptised 7 November 1683; marries 18 April 1717 Helena Burger

(5) Arend (Aart) baptised (1688-1737);  marries 16 April 1730 Helena du Toit, widow of E.F. de Swart

(6) Johanna / Anna (Annietie) (1691-1716); marries Jan H. Cloeten

(7) Gerrit (1693-1746);  marries 30 April 1730 Maria Magdalena van der Westhuizen

(8) Ockert (1696-ante 1718)

(9) Beatrix baptised 9 may 1698 marries 5 September 1721 Pieter van der Westhuizen.

[4] On the former island of Duiveland, Zeeland, Netherlands.

[5] Cape Archives (CA): Court of Justice (CJ) 780 (Criminal Sentences 1652-1697), no. 147, pp. 574-676 (22 September 1673); CA: C 11 (Resolutions of Council of Policy, pp. 97-104, Dingsdagh 23 November 1677).

[6] … een stuck land met daaropstaande timmerragien, leggende in de Tigerbergen wort meede bij de boedelhoutster bebout en met vee beleid; waar van tot nogh toe geen ervgrondbriev van en is, maar staat gegeven te worden … [(CA):  MOOC8/1, no. 65 (30 June 1701)].

[7] Also recorded as Clara Annaas Fonteijn. … Sijnde vervolgens meede de onder uijtgedrukte landerijen, alle in de Tijgerbergen geleegen, teegens vier schellingen voor ijder morgen jaarelijx voor den tijd van vijftien agtereenvolgende jaaren op het daarom gedaane versoek in erfpagt uijtgegeven geworden, namentlijk aan … Michiel Heijns 12 morgen 143 roeden bij zijn plaats Clara Annaas Fonteijn; … [CA: C 90, pp. 114-120 (Donderdag den 2e October 1732, voormiddags)].

[8] Baptized Marritie Cape 19 December 1683.  The witnesses are: Douwe Gerbrants: Steyn (from Leeuwarden) – Michiel Heyns Jr.’s step-mother’s 1st husband, and Maria van der Westhuizen, born Winkelhausen (from Burgsteinfurt (Westphalia).

[9]  Mansell G. Upham,  ‘In Hevigen woede…Part I: Groote Catrijn: Earliest recorded female bandiet at the Cape of Good Hope – a study in upward mobility’, Capensis, no. 3 of 1997, pp. 8-33; Part II: Christoffel Snijman: his curious origins and ambiguous position in early Cape colonial society’,  Capensis, no. 4 of 1997, pp. 29-35. See also:

[10] Dr Ute A Seemann, ARCHAEOLOGICAL / HISTORICAL RESEARCH REPORT:  The farm “Contermanskloof”– portion 5 of the farm Kliprug No 198 Administrative District of the Cape (July 2015).

[11] P.J. Smuts, Die Smuts-Familie van die Swartland (private publication, – Boland Drukpers, Wellington – no date).

[12] CA: MOOC 8/10, no. 9 (Inventory: Michiel Smuts d’Jonge & Susanna de Cock); CA: MOOC 10/8, no. 43 (Vendu Rollen: Michiel Smuts d’Jonge & Susanna de Cock); CA: C 138 (Resolutions of the Council of Policy, 15 July 1760, 17 July 1760, and 19 August 1760); Margaret Cairns, `Smuts family murders – 14.7.1760`, Cabo, vol. 3 (2), pp. 13-16; P.J. Smuts, Die Smuts-Familie van die Swartland (private publication – Boland Drukpers, Wellington – no date); Nigel Worden & Gerald Groenewald (eds.), Trials of Slavery, selected documents concerning slaves from the criminal records of the Council of Justice at the Cape of Good Hope, 1705-1794 (Van Riebeeck Society, Cape Town 2005),  pp. 355-384 & p. 335, n. 2; Sirtjo Koolhof & Robert Ross, `Upas, September and the Bugis at the Cape of Good Hope; the context of a slave`s letter`, Archipel; etudes interdisciplinaires sur le monde insulindien 70 (Paris 2005), pp. 281-308; Karel Schoeman, Portrait of a Slave Society:  The Cape of Good Hope, 1717-1795 (Protea Book House, Pretoria 2012), pp. 555-557.

[13] Sirtjo Koolhof & Robert Ross, `Upas, September & the Bugis at the Cape of Good Hope; the context of a slave`s letter`, Archipel; etudes interdisciplinaires sur le monde insulindien 70 (Paris 2005), pp. 281-308.

[14] Karel Schoeman, Portrait of a Slave Society: The Cape of Good Hope, 1717-1795 (Protea Book House, Pretoria 2012), pp. 555-557.

Able was I, ere I saw Elba … and then there was St. Helena …

Able was I, ere I saw Elba … & then there was St. Helena ...

23 July 1814:

Ode à la Paix


Charles-Etiénne Boniface (1787-1853)

most humbly dedicated to

Lord Charles Henry Somerset, Governor [of the Cape of Good Hope],


C.B. [Charles-Etiénne Boniface (1787-1853)]

a Friend of Humanity and Lover of his Country

De quelle épouvantable songe

Vois-je sortir l’humanité?!

Qui perce la nuit de mensonge

De sa lumineuse clarté?

Du haut de la célèste voûte

Quel ange dirige sa roûte

Sur cette terre de malheur?

L’Eternel, après tant d’orages,

Veut-il suspender les ravages

De son ange exterminateur?

Dispensateur de la lumière,

Créateur infiniment bon;

Source intarissable et première

De bienfaisance et de raison;

Toi, dont le bras lance la foudre,

Et qui pourrais réduire en poudre

Ce monde ingrate et criminel;

C’est toi qui, malgré ta justice

Aux humains de nouveau propice

Leur donne un regard paternel!

Au sein des Gaules-transalpines

Ce n’est donc plus de toutes parts

Que le carnage et les ruines

Qui viennent frapper mes regards!

Quoi! Ces champs jadis si fertiles,

Si peuplés d’artisans utiles,

Et de tant de cités ouverts;

Ces champs où règnait l’abondance,

Et le bonheur et l’opulence,

Sont devenus d’affreux déserts!

Hélàs? Pour le fléau du monde

Un tyran vomi des enfers

Dans la douleur la plus profonde

Jure de plonger l’univers!

Déjà couvert du diadême

Revêtu du pouvoir suprême,

Il tient le sceptre de nos Rois;

Déjà les ravages du Tibre

Et les états d’un people libre,

Semblent reconnaître ses lois.

En vain l’humanité demande

Un terme à sa rapacité;

L’Europe n’est pas assez grande,

L’univers même est trop borné.

Il faut pour contenter sa rage

Porter la mort et l’esclavage

Des les climates les plus lointains

Il faut à sa gloire funeste,

Que son histoire un jour atteste

Qu’il fut la terreur des humains.

Tel on voit un tigre enfurie

Quittant son autre ténébreux,

Courir hardiment la prairie,

Qu’il remplit d’un carnage affreux;

Son oeil terrible se colore

Du sang dont la soif le dévore;

Son muffle en parait tout souillé;

Tout meurt sous sa griffe cruelle;

Et baigné du sang qui ruisselle

Le monstre ést encore altéré.

Ainsi dans sa fureur geurrière,

L’ambitieux NAPOLEON

Veut désoler la terre entière

Pour immortaliser son nom

Plus les hazards de la victoire

Semblent tourner contre sa gloire,

Moins il évite les combats;

Plus il immole de victims,

Plus veut à force de crimes

Surpasser les grands scélérats.

Voyez ces campagnes jonchées

De cadavres morts ou mourans;

Ces moissons, ces villes brulées,

Ces sillons encore tout sanglans;

D’une jeunesse ardente et vive

Voyez la cohorte oppressive

Porter le trépas devant soi;

Partout où la guide un faux zèle

Les forfeits, l’horreur et l’effroi.

Dans ce désordre épouvantable

Voyez l’infâme usurpateur

Garder un calme imperturbable

Lorsque l’enfer est dans son coeur.

En vain ces femmes éplorées

Et ces vieillards chargés d’années

Frappent l’air de leurs tristes cris:

Soeurs, ah! vous n’avez plus de frères!

Enfants, vous n’avez plus de pères!

Vieillards, vous n’avez plus de fils!!!

O ma Patrie! ô tendre mère,

Quand tes malheurs vont-ils finir!

Du sein d’une terre étrangère

Je n’ai que pleurs à t’offrir.

Mais que dis-je? La Providence

Va mettre un terme à sa vengeance,

Et ton sort est déjà changé;

Déjà, pour cesser tant d’allarmes

L’Europe entière prend les armes

Et combat pour la liberté.

Où vont les phalanges guerrières

De ces villains enfans du Nord?

Voyez-les franchir nos frontières

Bravant les périls et la mort.

Grâce à leur constance héroïque

Nous goûtons déjà les bienfaits

Tout, sous leurs coups fléchit ou tombe;

NAPOLEON même y succombe,

Et sa chûte nous rend la Paix.

La Paix!!! … Vieillards, Epouses, Mères

Que les revers ont abattus;

Et vous Enfans, Amantes, Frères.

Infortunés, ne pleurez plus

La Paix, en ce jour plein de charmes

Avec les objets de vos larmes Ramiène la félicité

La Paix que le ciel vous accorde

Va faire régner la concorde,

L’amour et la fraternité.

Paix, qui daigne enfin nous sourire!

Ah! viens au milieu des mortels

Fixer pour toujours ton empire,

Et que nos coeurs soient tes autels!

Il faut un terme à nos misères;

Les hommes ne sont-ils pas frères?

Sont-ils nés pour s’exterminer?

Non, la célèste Providence

En leur accordant l’existence

Leur fit une loi s’aimer.

Aimons-nous donc: et que l’envie

Ne trouble plus nos cours instans.

Que désormais l’ignominie

Soit le partage des tyrans.

Celui que l’univers contemple

Doit à jamais server d’exemple

A tout brigand dévastateur.

Ce BONAPARTE, ce faux brave,

A mieux aimé vivre en esclave

Que de mourir au champ d’honneur.

[The Cape Town Gazette & African AdvertiserKaapstadse Courant en Afrikaansche Berigter, 23 July 1814 (IX, no. 445)]

Historians debate whether Napoleon was “an enlightened despot who laid the foundations of modern Europe or, instead, a megalomaniac who wrought greater misery than any man before the coming of Hitler”. Many historians conclude that he had grandiose foreign policy ambitions. The Continental powers as late as 1808 were willing to give him (conceded?) nearly all of his gains and titles, but some scholars maintain he was overly aggressive and pushed for too much, until his empire collapsed.

Napoleon ended lawlessness and disorder in post-Revolutionary France. He was considered a tyrant, usurper and warmonger unconcerned with the deaths for thousands, turning his search for undisputed rule into a series of conflicts throughout Europe and ignoring treaties and conventions alike. His role in the Haitian Revolution and decision to reinstate slavery in France’s overseas colonies remain controversial and affect his reputation.

Napoleon also institutionalised the plunder of conquered territories: French museums contain art stolen by Napoleon’s forces from across Europe. Artefacts were brought to the Musée du Louvre for a grand central museum; his example would later serve as inspiration for more notorious imitators. He was compared to Adolf Hitler most famously by historian Pieter Geyl (1947) and Claude Ribbe (2005). David G. Chandler, however, writes (1973) that:

“Nothing could be more degrading to the former [Napoleon] and more flattering to the latter [Hitler]. The comparison is odious. On the whole Napoleon was inspired by a noble dream, wholly dissimilar from Hitler’s … Napoleon left great and lasting testimonies to his genius—in codes of law and national identities which survive to the present day. Adolf Hitler left nothing but destruction”.

Napoleon’s legacy nevertheless reflects the loss of status for France and needless deaths brought by his rule: historian Victor Davis Hanson writes, “After all, the military record is unquestioned—17 years of wars, perhaps 6 million Europeans dead, France bankrupt, her overseas colonies lost”. McLynn states that, “He can be viewed as the man who set back European economic life for a generation by the dislocating impact of his wars” whereas an apologist Vincent Cronin counters that Napoleon is unfairly held solely responsible for the wars which bear his name since France effectively was the “victim” of a series of coalitions which aimed to destroy the ideals of the Revolution …

Charles-Etiénne Boniface (1787-1853) is born in Paris, France … a natif de France

He is the son of the gaoler, revolutionary, terrorist and apprehended assassin (mistakenly thought by some to be an ‘aristocrat’ and ‘adjudant-general’), banished to the Seychelles:

  • Antoine Boniface (dies 1805)

and his equally revolutionary, blood-letting wife

  • Bénigne de Fleuret

A man of many parts, he is inter alia the eccentric author and producer of original plays, pantomimes and ballets (in both French and the contemporary Cape Dutch patois / proto-Afrikaans) as well as adaptations, poems, songs, musical compositions, allegories, historical works and satires.

He also assumes the roles of editor, journalist, translator, interpreter, ‘lawyer’, actor, playwright, producer, impresario, teacher (languages, dancing and music), guitarist and fencing instructor at the Cape of Good Hope and later in the newly established colony of Natal

This extremely mordant and vehemently anti-Napoleonic savant authors at the Cape, the play (now lost), entitled:


With this play, he echoes ironically, also assuredly … Les Enragés (‘The Enraged Ones’) – a group of militant firebrands claiming to defend the French lower class notorious for their vitriolic rhetoric when demanding that the National Convention take more drastic measures to benefit the ‘Poor’ and screeching loudest, the dictates of the brutalized Sans-culottes, during the French Revolution.

Of these Enragés, the most vitriolic of this revolutionary following, are:

  • Jacques Roux (1752-1794)

Detail of an anonymous print depicting Jacques Roux

 in the process of writing up an account of the execution of Louis XVI

  • Jean Varlet (1764-1837)
  • Théophile Leclerc [Jean Théophile Victor Leclerc, aka Jean-Theophilus Leclerc & Theophilus Leclerc d’Oze] (1771-1820) &
  • Claire Lacombe (1765-?)

being the most strident critics of the National Convention for failing to carry out the promises of the French Revolution, playing an active role in the Paris Uprisings (31 May 31–2 June 1793) that expel the Girondins from the National Convention ensuring that Robespierre’s thugs, the Montagnards, usurp control, thereby unleashing the Reign of Terror

An Early Cape connection with Madura

by Mansell Upham

Today – 2 May 1734 – is the recorded marriage at the Cape of Good Hope between my paternal ancestors via my great-grandmother Maria (Mimi) Jacoba Basson, born Blatt (1870-1945) of:

the Cape-born Johanna Catharina VAN JAARSVELD (baptised 12 July 1716) and Cape-born Jan BASSON (baptised 24 October 1706)

This marriage has greater significance when it is contextualized in terms of family as well as East Indian colonial ties.

Basson is grandson to both the manumitted personal slave Maaij Ansela van Bengale and the VOC sick-comforter Michiel Janse DAASDONS who dies en route from the Salt Islands – ie the Indonesian island of Madura as well as the surrounding islands such as Gili Raja, Sapudi, Raas and the Kangean Islands] …

Van Jaarsveld is the granddaughter of thrice-married and well-connected Catharina HOFFERS: (from Dodrecht) who settles at the Cape via Batavia [Jakarta, Indonesia] and Ceylon [Sri Lanka] and the niece to Batavia-born Renier van der SANDE – husband to Basson’s paternal aunt – Maaij Ansela’s daughter, Elsje Basson (1681-1713).

THE SALT ISLANDS … some background on MADURA and Dutch control …

Sultan Agung of Mataram – ꦯꦸꦭ꧀ꦠꦤ꧀ꦲꦒꦸꦁꦲꦢꦶꦦꦿꦧꦸꦲꦚꦏꦿꦏꦸꦱꦸꦩ, Sultan Agung Adi Prabu Hanyåkråkusumå – 3rd Sultan of Mataram in Central Java (1613-1645) – conquers Madura (1624) and the island’s government is brought under the Cakraningrat family, a single princely line, who, opposing Central Javanese rule, conquer large parts of Mataram.

Following the 1st Javanese War of Succession between Amangkurat III and his uncle, Pangeran Puger, the Dutch gain control (1705) of the eastern half of Madura.

Dutch recognition of Puger is influenced by the lord of West Madura,

Cakraningrat II supports Puger’s claims hoping that a new war in central Java will provide the Madurese with a chance to interfere.

However, while Amangkurat III is arrested and exiled to Ceylon [Sri Lanka], Puger assumes the title of Pakubuwono I and signs a treaty with the Dutch that grants them East Madura.

The Cakraningrats agree to help the Dutch quash the 1740 rebellion in Central Java after the Chinese Massacre (1740).

In a treaty (1743) with the Dutch, Pakubuwono I cedes full sovereignty of Madura to the Dutch which is contested by Cakraningrat IV who flees to Banjarmasin.

Taking refuge with the English, he is robbed and betrayed by the sultan.

Captured by the Dutch, he is exiled to the Cape of Good Hope.

The Dutch continue Madura’s administrative divisions of four states each with their own regent.

The island is initially important as a source of colonial troops and in the 2nd half of the 19th century becomes the main source of salt for Dutch-controlled territories in the archipelago.

Madura is one of the poorest regions of the [present-day East Java province. Unlike Java, the soil is not fertile enough to make it a major agricultural producer.

Limited economic opportunities lead to chronic unemployment and poverty.

These factors cause long-term emigration from the island, such that most ethnic Madurese people do not now live on Madura.

People from Madura are some of the most numerous participants in government transmigration programs, moving to other parts of Indonesia.

Subsistence agriculture is a mainstay of the economy.

Maize is a key subsistence crop on the island’s many small landholdings.

Cattle-raising is also a critical part of the agricultural economy, providing extra income to peasant farmer families, in addition to being the basis for Madura’s famous bull-racing competitions.

Small-scale fishing is also important to the subsistence economy.

Among export industries, tobacco farming is a major contributor to the island’s economy.

Madura’s soil, while unable to support many food crops, helps make the island an important producer of tobacco and cloves for the domestic kretek (clove cigarette) industry.

Since the Dutch era, the island is also a major producer and exporter of salt.

Salt Production (1948)
Wife of Prince Cakra Adiningrat X (1865) [Collectie Tropenmuseum, Amsterdam]

Is this the epitome of CAMP, or what?

by Mansell Upham

Jan van Riebeeck

This man stops over at the Cape of Good Hope in 1648 with the return fleet of the Dutch East India Company (VOC) – together with Jan van Riebeeck (returning – somewhat chastised – from Hanoi in Vietnam and future 1st VOC commander at the Cape of Good Hope) … to rescue the stranded crew of the Haerlem

Wollebrant Geleyns de Jongh aka Wollebrant Geleyns de Jonge / Wollebrant Geleynsen de Jonge (1594-1674)

Raised in an orphanage in Alkmaar, he joins the VOC (aged 16) eventually becoming a member of the Council of India and also VOC trader and 4th director at Gamron, Persia [Iran] (1640). 

On his return to Patria – with Jan van Riebeeck on board, he stops over at the Cape of Good Hope (1648) for 18 days to retrieve crew of the stranded ship Haerlem shipwrecked there in 1647.   

He bequeaths (1674) a portrait (painted 1674) to the Burgerweeshuis te Alkmaar as a career incentive to other orphans.

He dies (28 January 1674) at Alkmaar , a bachelor aged 80.

The portrait is later taken to the Kostershuis van de Grote of Sint-Laurenskerk (1811-1859) where it remains (1859-1875) until it is loaned and finally donated (1883) to the Stedelijk Museum Alkmaar

Restoration (11 January 1883) work on the painting is believed to have been done by A. Klässener.

Caesar van Everdingen – Stedelijk Museum Alkmaar (geschilderd in opdracht van de voorgestelde en in 1674)

Robben Island-relegated Prince of Ternate – exiled for rape – manumits his three children making provision for them to be his heirs

by Mansell Upham

Manumission (1733) of Prince of Ternate`s 3 children[1]

No. 47 [85]

N:[colaa]s Leij[2]

Huijden den 24 April 1733 compareerd voor mij nicolaas Leij eertste geswore Clercq ter politicque Secretarije alhier aan Cabo de goede hoop, present de naargen:[oemde] getuijgen den Ondercoopman en negotie Overdrager S:[ieu]r abraham decker[3], dewelke ingevolge de dispositie van catchiri daijman moetie /: alias : / den ternataansen prins ketees matmoetie[4], in dato den 17 feb:[ruarij] 1733 in presentie van seven getuijgen op `t  robben eijland geparseert, mitsg:[ade]rs op daar op bekomene consent van den edelen heer gouv:[er]neur consent en E:[dele] agtb:[are] politicquen raat desen plaatse volgens resolutie van den 7 desen Loopende maand april verclaard te emanicipeeren, vrij te geeven en uijt slaafse diensbaarheijt te Ontslaan gelijk emancipeerd vrijgaf en uijt Slaafse diensbaarheijt Ontsloeg bij desen Sekere drie kinderen door bovengen:[de] ternataansen prins bij sijn Overledenen Slavin rosetta van ceijlon geprocreeert, met namen Amel, talie en adel van de caab permiteerende haar lieden vrijders om sig met alle geoorloofde handteeringen en traficquen Met God en met eere door de weerelt te mogen redden en erneeren.

Ook verclaarde meergem: S:[ieu]r Abraham decker Sig als borge te interpeneeren dat voorsz: vrijgegevenen in de eerste thien agter een volgende Jaaren de diaconij deser plaatse Om eendig onderhoud niet zullen Lastig vallen of alimentatie versoeken, Onder verband als na regten.

Dat alhier passeerd ter Secretarije voorn:[oemde] ten Overstaan van Michiel pentz en Pieter walravens als getuijgen. 

[signed] A:[braha]m Decker

Als getuijgen

[signed] M:[ichie]l Pentz[5]

[signed] P:[iete]r Walravens[6]

In kennisse van mij

[signed] N:[icolaa]s Leij

E[dele]g[eswore] clercq

Javanese Prince [Tropenmuseum, Amsterdam]

[1] This is in terms of a Council of Policy resolution (7 April 1733) Cape Archives (CA): C 92, pp. 56-66]: Dingsdag den 7e April 1733, voormiddags. Alle tegenwoordig… Verscheijnende vervolgens ter vergadering den ondercoopman en negotie overdrager, Abraham Decker, dewelke ter lectuure quam over te leveren de uijtterste dispositie door den hier gebannen Ternataanssen prins, Ketees Malocco, gepasseert, waarbij denselven zijne drie kinderen, met naamen Amel, Talie en Adel, breeder bij resolutie van den 11e Februarij jongstl.[eden] vermeld, niet alleen vrij, maar ook zijne erfgenaamen verklaart te weesen, met versoek dat gedagte Decker, die tot executeur van dit testament is aangesteld, aan deselve de vereijschte vrijbrieven, met permissie deeser Regeering mogt versorgen, weshalven hier over gedelibereert zijnde, verstaan is dat hij deselve vrijbrieven zal kunnen laaten opmaaken en afgeeve … Aldus geresolveert ende gearresteert in ‘t Casteel de Goede Hoop, ten daage en jare voorsz.

                JAN DE LA FONTAINE.
                A. V. KERVEL.
                D. V. D. HENGHEL.
                J. T. RHENIUS.
                NS. HEIJNING.
                HK. SWELLENGREBEL.
                CL. BRAND.
                R. TULBAGH.
Rt. en secrets.

 The prince draws up a 2nd will on 17 February 1733 and his children are subsequently manumitted on 24 April 1733 [CJ 3083, Obligatiën, Transporten van Slaven, Vrijbrieven &c., 1733, pp. 85-86].

[2] Nicolaas Leij / Ley baptised Cape (25 November 1703); son of Michiel Ley [Löw] (1670-1716) (from Basel in Switzerland) & Engeltje Breda (from Delft, Holland); merchant & 2nd Commissioner for Slave Trade on Madagascar; marries Jacoba Christina de Wet; his brother Johannes Ley – baptised 25 April 1706; Company clerk, Commissioner of Civil & Marriage Affairs – marries Anna Thibault daughter of Daniel Thibault (from Amsterdam) & Cape-born Aletta de Beer.

[3] Abraham Decker (1697-1752) born Amsterdam (1697); arrives at Cape (1717) as assistent ex India; promoted to bookkeeper (1722); marries (1) 27 June 1723 Regina Möller (dies 1736), daughter of Hendrik Christoffel Möller (from Hamburg)& Margaretha Marquardt (from Hamburg); 2 children; marries (2) 31 March 1736 Theodora van Taak, daughter of Willem van Taak & Martha van der Bijl; 2 children: (1) Johanna Emma Barbara baptized Cape 4 April 1738 Den 4 April Johanna Emma Barbara. De vader is Abraham Decker. De moeder Theodora van Taak. De getuigen sijn den wel edelen gest:n heer Jan de la Fontaine en me juff:r[ouw] Barbara de la Fontaine; (2) Abraham Willem baptized Cape 3 July 1740 (witnesses: Pieter van Taak & Elsje Decker) [Den 3 Julij Abraham Willem – De vader Abraham Decker. De moeder Theodora van Taak. De getuigen Pieter van Taak en Elsje Decker]. [CA: MOOC 7/5 (Testamenten, 1735-1737), no. 29; MOOC 7/8 (Testamenten, 1752-1758), no. 39). Decker & his 2nd wife take in Kaicil Mahmud`s son Abdullah – later baptized Adolph adopting the sobriquet / family name Jonker. Decker`s 1st wife Regina Möller`s sister Maria Möller marries (14 April 1726) Marthinus Heems, born Cape 1703, son of Roman Catholic Guilliaume Heems (from Brughes, Flanders) & the Cape-born Anna van Banchem, step-son of his wife`s Cape-born brother Hendrik Möller (son of Hendrik Christoffel Möller from Hamburg & Margaretha Marquardt from Hamburg); assistant (1720); junior merchant (onder coopman);  dies (1754) & nephew to both Maria Möller (wife to Marthinus Heems) & Regina Möller (wife to Abraham Decker).

[4] Kyai Chili Mahmud / محمود – `the praised one` Prince of Ternate / Prince of Calomato [Kalamata] aka Jonker van Macassar and found

[4] Kyai Chili Mahmud / محمود – `the praised one` Prince of Ternate / Prince of Calomato [Kalamata] aka Jonker van Macassar and found

[4] Kyai Chili Mahmud / محمود – `the praised one` Prince of Ternate / Prince of Calomato [Kalamata] aka Jonker van Macassar and found

[4] Kyai Chili Mahmud / محمود – `the praised one` Prince of Ternate / Prince of Calomato [Kalamata] aka Jonker van Macassar and found recorded variously as: Daija Mamoetij / Catchiri Daijman Mamoeti / Moetie / Katsili Dayan Mamoedy / Kitsjel Dain Mamoedie / Ketees Malocco / Matmoetie – – the mort vivant or ‘socially dead’ Prince of Ternate convicted (1704) in Batavia for committing rape, saved from the gallows for political reasons, and exiled to the Cape of Good Hope as a VOC convict (bandiet) and quasi-Company slave who is also later banished to Robben Island for illegally operating a brothel and gambling den at his place of exile.

[5] Michiel Pentz (1700-1750), son of Michael Pentz & Cicilia Ritter, born Lübeck (1700); arrives (1723) as soldier; assistant (1725); bookkeeper (1732); free-burgher1735; dies (1750); marries (21 October 1731) Cape-born Johanna Barbara Oberholster [Oberholzer], legitimate daughter of Johann (Jan) Oberholster [Oberholz] from Switzerland & Helena du Toit, 10 children [CA: C 237 (Requesten en Nominatiën, 1735-1736), no. 23; MOOC 7/7 (Testamenten, 1746-1751), no. 94].

[6] Pieter Walraven / Walravens (from Genua [Genoa]) is assistent with the Secretariat of the Political Council [CA: C 100 (Council of Policy resolution, 12 June 1736), pp. 123-130 – see also TANAP].

Joint adult baptism (1668) at the Cape of Good Hope of the slave women: Groote Catrijn van Paliacatta and Maaij Ans(i)ela van Bengale

Joint adult baptism at the Cape of Good Hope of exiled convict-cum-Company slave Groote Catrijn van Paliacatta and freed private slave Maaij Ans(i)ela van Bengale once belonging to Jan van Riebeeck …

By Mansell Upham

29 April 1668:

den 29 April [1668] zijn gedoopt na gedaen belydenisse twee bejaerde personen, waer van de een genaemt wiert Angila de andere Catharien

These two women are of my more prolific Indian slave ancestors from whom I have multiple descents in both paternal and maternal lines: the bandiet (‘convict’) Groote Catrijn van Paliacatta and Maaij Ansiela van Bengale who once belonged as personal slave to Jan van Riebeeck – the Cape of Good Hope’s 1st VOC commander – who sold her rather than freed her …

Both these indomitable women irrefutably ‘mothered’ … spawned … a very substantial portion of so-called ‘white’ South Africa …

Perhaps some of the trouble in South Africa really did start with Jan van Riebeeck, after all – but not for any ‘reasons’ an ahistorically-hysterically myopic Jacob Zuma or his ilk of indunas could possibly ever conjure up by himself / themselves …

Arriving at the Cape in the same return fleet (1657), both become godmothers to each other’s sons.

Maaij Ansela herself and two of her sons (Jacobus van As and Willem Basson) later witness baptisms of some children of Groote Catrijn’s son, Christoffel Snijman – the latter being Maaij Ansela’s godson.

Christoffel Snijman, in turn, also witnesses (with Maaij Ansela), her own grandchild’s baptism. Maaij Ansela outlives Groote Catrijn by 38 years.

She and her large influential family are to play a continuous part in the lives of Groote Catrijn’s son and his family …

For more information about these two iconic ‘founding mothers’ of countless Southern African colonially induced generally ‘white’ families click at the following links:…/Remarka…/UL14CapeMothers.pdf…/Remarkab…/UL15MoederJagt.pdf

Picture: Bengali women early 1860s

Did the Cape slave-born son of Armozijn Claes: accompany W.A. van der Stel to the Netherlands in 1707?

by Mansell Upham

Did the Cape-born slave Claes Jonasz: d’Oude[1] and his de facto wife Dina van Bima[2] – a private slave belonging to the ‘disgraced’ (compromised?) and recalled VOC Cape of Good Hope Governor Willem Adriaan van der Stel, Heer van Oud- en Niew Vosmaer (c. 1662-1733)  – accompany the governor and his family when repatriating to the Netherlands?

Karel Schoeman, referencing the Contra-deductie (p. 52), mentions that the governor takes with him een swarte slaaf genoemd Jacob.[3]  It is not unlikely that he may have taken more slaves in keeping with his rank and status.  Van der Stel and his family depart (23 April 1707) from the Cape on aboard the Oosterstein being part of the return fleet.  His brother Jonker Frans van der Stel aka Don Francisco sails on the Oestgeest – but without his Cape-born wife Johanna Wessels and three daughters.[4]

Margaret Cairns

In Margaret Cairns’s groundbreaking article on Armozijn Claes: van de Caep (1659-1733) – that legal-wise matres (‘matron’) of the VOC’s Slave Lodge at the Cape of Good Hope – mention is made of a letter (dated 15 October 1711) written by W.A. van der Stel and addressed to, as well as in the possession of, the den vrijswart Claas Jonasz: d’Oude.[5]  This letter the Cape-born free-black lays (13 February 1725) before the Dutch colony’s Governor Jan de la Fontaine (c. 1684 – 6 May 1743) and his Council of Policy: 

Claas Jonasz:,

– Om uwe begeerte en versoek toe te staan, soo hebbe ik aan de Heeren mijne volmagten geschreeven dat die de vrijbrief van Dina aan uw soude ter hand stellen, en daarmeede wensche ik uw veel geluk en voorspoed in de weereld.

Vaart wel en vreest God, op dat het u voorspoedig mag gaan.

(Was geteekent)

Willem Adriaan van der Stel.

(In margine)

Amsterdam, den 15 October 1711.

This is when Claas petitions for the formalization of the manumission of his enslaved de facto wife Dina van Bima in order for the couple to be legally married.

Cairns also mentions that baptisms for four of their eight children could not be found in Cape records.  Two of the missing baptisms, however, I have found:  Anna Elisabeth as a Company slave on 30 January 1707 and Helena (Lena) as a free-born person on 31 March 1720. 

A re-assessment of this nuclear family’s make-up points to a different sequence for these eight children (Jonas, Armosyn / Armosina, Anna Elisabeth, Claes de Jonge, Elisabeth, Maria, Willem and Lena).  This, in turn, raises the likelihood that Claes and Dina and family may well accompany the recalled Governor WA van der Stel when he returns with his family to Patria.  Besides taking een swarte slaaf genoemd Jacob, it is not unlikely that the recalled Governor may have taken more slaves in keeping with his status. 

This contention is further bolstered by the fact that Dina’s baptism has now also been located.  As a slave belonging to W.A. van der Stel, she is baptized on 20 June 1706 na voorgaande beleijdenis [Slaven Kinders des Vrijborgers of Comp:[agnies] Dienaeren]. 

Indications, then, are that Claas and Dina (both already baptised) and their family, in all probability, go to Patria and that two of their children are born free and baptized there.  This, then, would explain the remaining two missing baptisms for Claas de Jonge and Elisabeth.  It is hoped that these missing baptisms will one day be located and further confirm this supposition. 

In accordance with Dutch law at the time, their arrival on Dutch soil accords them automatic freedom.  This is significant as Claes is slave-born heelslag which means that he is not entitled to freedom on attaining his legal majority at 25 years of age. 

Also noteworthy, is the fact that Claas and Dina baptize (28 January 1713) their next child Maria at the Cape, not as a slave, but as a vrijgeborene.  The family presumably returns (ante 1711) as free folk to the Cape. Claas de Jonge’s peculiar legal standing as an early manumitted Cape-born heelslag Company slave then allows him legally to marry a free-born Cape woman solely of European extraction – Anna Maria Brits (1699-c. 1733), widow of the Cape-born Herman Gerrits: van Oldenburg.

Another conundrum – already at the time of writing my article on early Cape ‘carnal conversations’ between black men and white women[6] – has now, hopefully, been solved.

[1] Heelslag son of the Cape-born Company heelslag slave Armozijn Claes: in all probability by the Company slave Jonas van Malabar (baptized 23 August 1693).  Grandson of the Ethiopian Company slave Koddo aka Cornelia Arabus van Abissina possibly by the private slave Paaij Claes van Guinea.

[2] Bima / Mbojo, of the six Muslim sultanates (Sumbawa, Tambora, Dompu, Pekat, Sanggar and Bima) on the island of Sumbawa prized for its invaluable sappanwood, is the dominant polity. All six polities become vassal states (by 1669) to the Makkaserese kingdom of Goa on Sulawesi and strategic intermarriages between Sumbawa island royalty and Makkaserese royals ensue.  During the reign of Abu’l-Khair Sirajuddin the Makassar empire is defeated (1667 & 1669) by the VOC, losing their possessions in eastern Indonesia, including their suzerainty over Sumbawa. The Bima Sultanate surrenders to the VOC with an agreement signed (8 December 1669) in Batavia [Jakarta]. The early-modern Bimanese state is remarkably structured for its time. Society is divided into two noble classes called ruma and rato, and a class of free people, dou mardika. Under them is a category of slaves, who are often taken from Manggarai on Flores or Sumba. The population is divided into a large number of task groups called dari (akin to European ‘guilds’) being a hereditary profession. The king, his vizier (ruma bicara), and the royal council are able to reach down to village level thereby ensuring a relatively stable society.

[3] Karel Schoeman, Here en Boere: Die kolonie aan die Kaap onder die Van der Stels, 1679-1712, p. 440.

[4] She was sister to my maternal ancestor  (7x great-grandfather) the oud Heemraad Johannes Wessels who was married to Geertruijda Pretorius who later remarries Jan Cloete, widower of Anna Olivier and Petronella van der Merwe who owns the farms: Idas Valleij, Vredenburgh and Vlottenburgh – all situated at Stellenbosch.

[5] Margaret Cairns, ‘Armosyn Claasz of the Cape and her Family, 1661-1783’, Familia, vol. XVI, no. 4 (1979), pp. 84-89 & 92-99.

[6] Mansell Upham, ‘Keeping the gate of Hell … ‘subliminal racism’ and early Cape carnal conversations between black men and white women’, Capensis (2001), no. 1, pp. 13-33.

The interconnectedness of things … Holloway / Basson / Smuts / Brett … and more …

The interconnectedness of things … Holloway / Basson / Smuts / Brett … and more …

by Mansell Upham

Today is my Dad`s birthday … he also died (25April 2006) on his birthday. Born (25 April 1927) in Johannesburg, his mother Hettie (born Basson) died (1930) when he was 3 years old and his father Willie Upham died (1933) in a gold mining accident at Springs on the East Rand  while rescuing gold miners underground when Dad was only 6 years old.

Ever since being orphaned, my Dad always had a somewhat peripatetic existence throughout his life but always spoke with deep affection about his childhood visits to his maternal grandparents at their old Cape Dutch house named Casa Bianca in Dorp Street Street, Stellenbosch … the tailor Matthys `Silwervis` Basson and the fiercely proud Mimi Blatt whose father and mother were both close relatives of General Jan Smuts, a frequent visitor to their house.

Many years later our family actually moved to Stellenbosch where my Holloway-descendant mother Ria (born Priem) had a book shop … in the very street where Spanish Flu-victim Frank Benjamain Holloway (1885-1918) had his blacksmith shop.

Suzie & her 2nd husband (also 1st cousin) Henry Siebrits

I was fortunate enough, not only to hear more about the history of Casa Bianca and its folk – which house was sadly demolished in the 1970s before the town finally took charge of its threatened architectural heritage – from my visiting England-resident aunts Jean and Dos, my great-aunt Suzie Siebrits, formerly Oosthuizen and my great-grandmother`s 1st cousin Annie van der Merwe and all the oldies of the town that I could track down during my student days.

Dad’s sisters Jean Sorby and Dos Chaplin

I soon discovered that the house had actually belonged to a relative on my Mother`s side of the family – in fact an older brother of my very own maternal great-great-grandfather Henry Edward Holloway (1839-1921), George John Holloway (1836-1920) and had been known previously as Magnolia

George John Holloway (1836-1929)

The picture of the house featured here, I later happened on many moons later here in Japan while surfing the net and discovering a blog site by none other than Jack Holloway – great-grandson of George John Holloway

When my great-aunt Susie finally and reluctantly gave up her home to move to an old age home, she was most insistent that the bench and the metal doormat that were at Casa Bianca should come to me … both of which I, in turn insisted, be taken thereafter to my parents` farm Helderstroom in the Bossiesveld, near Villiersdorp – which house, too, I later discovered … serendipitously … was the dwelling of none other than Mrs Francis Russell Brett, the eldest sister George Holloway`s 1st wife, Johanna Susanna Engelbrecht … whose singular mausoleum at the St Augustine Anglican Church … where my father worshipped as a high school boy … I happened on most unexpectedly the very day we were burying my ever-ebullient sister Anne (1958-1988) who had died in the prime of her life from injuries sustained in a fatal car accident between Villiersdorp and Hermanus …

Anne Caroline Upham (1957-1988) – Christmas Day 1987 at Helderstroom

On a previous visit to South Africa a few years ago, I was amazed to behold and hold in my own hands at the house of Denzil Holloway a photograph of my great-granny`s brother James Laing Holloway (1871-1912) with the inscription that it had been taken at Magnolia

Today, I am thinking … fondly and wistfully … celebrating my Father, my mentor, my guide, my friend, my companion through life, whom I miss so so much … William Mansell UPHAM (born Johannesburg 25 April 1927 – died Cape Town 25 April 2006) who chuckled incessantly to himself one day when he informed me that “I wanted to be a philosopher, but cheerfuless got in the way …”

And I am thinking, too, of all the other God-given Spirits that continue to fulfill and sustain me in and throughout this Life …

Here follows some devilish-dervishy doggerel written by my armchair-anarchist father to amuse my mother and ease her hellish rheumatoid arthritic suffering …

Goeie Gedorie – Alweer die Koffie Storie – deur Bill Upham aan sy vrou Ria (Helderstroom Plaas, Bossiesveld 1996)

Koffie met semel

Kry jy nie in die hemel.

Koffie met akker – en

Ons moet suffer

Kry jy wel,

Maar net in die hel.

Koffie wat puur is

Kry jy daar bo,

Jammer dis so

Dat dit te duur is.

Ek sê ou tjommie!

Jy sê die koffie kom nie?

Dis wat jy dink!

Dis geskink

Reg om te drink!

Koffie sonder water is oorbodig,

Dis vanselfsprekend water is nodig.

Daar kan geen debat wees –

Koffie moet nat wees.


Ou Tante Koba roer haar koffie

Met haar groot toon om.

Ek wonder hoekom?

Ek is nie dom.

Ek het dit probeer,

Maar dit was seer –

Want dit brand.

Ou Tante Koba roer haar koffie

Met haar groot toon om.

Ek wonder hoekom?

Ek is nie dom.

Ek wou weer probeer

Met koue koffie dié keer.

Terwyl ek sit en dink

Het ek die koffie gedrink.

Ek kon maar net staar –

Die koffie was klaar.

Ou Tante Koba roer haar koffie

Met haar groot toon om.

Ek wonder hoekom?

Ek is nie dom.

Ek wou weer eksperimenteer

En iets anders probeer.

Ek het lank gesit en dink,

Ook die koffie gedrink.

Ek het toe gewonder:

Is die koppie bo of onder?

Na ‘n tyd

Het ek besluit,

Die besef het my verstom!

Weet jy hoekom?

Ou Tante Koba is so dom!

Sy roer haar koffie

met haar groot toon om!


Goeie môre my vrou

Hier’s ‘n soontjie vir jou

Los die koffie in die kan

Eers later drink ons dit dan

Vat jou goed en trek Ferreira

Vat jou goed en trek

Dis die einde van die affêre

Jy is net bek Ferreira

Hou jou soontje my man

Ek drink liewers die koffie in die kan.

Jan van Elseracq / Eserack – Jan van Riebeeck’s boss in Japan …

by Mansell Upham

Jan van Elseracq / Eserack

He is the VOC opperhoofd or kapitan at Dejima (1 November 1641-29 October 1642) who presides over 20 men:

  • 4 opperkooplieden,
  • 1 koopman (merchant’),
  • 3 onderkooplieden (‘junior merchants’),
  • 1 chirurg (‘barber’ or ‘surgeon’) – being none other than Jan Anthonijsz: van Riebeeck – later 1st VOC commander at Cape of Good Hope (1652-1662),
  • een aantal assistenten (‘some assistants’) and
  • jongens in opleiden (‘apprentices in training’).
Jan Anthonisz: van Riebeeck – 1st VOC commander at the Cape of Good Hope who served previously on Dejima at Nagasaki, Kyushu, Japan

He visits Edo – present-day Tokyo (4 December 1641-12 March 1642) to pay tribute in person to the Tokugawa shogun.

Edo [Tokyo, Japan], 1865 /1866. Photochrom print – 5 albumen prints joined to form panorama [Photographer: Felice Beato]

After his 1st stint on Kyushu in Nagasaki Bay on Dejima, he serves on the Raad van Justitie in Batavia.

Again appointed head of VOC trading post (8 November 1643-24 November 1644), he visits Edo for a 2nd time (December 1643) spending thereafter eight years on Dejima, initially as onder- and opperkoopman.

Dejima – VOC factory at Nagasaki, Kyushu, Japan

His duties include visiting annually the shogun in Edo and attacking Spanish and Portuguese ships.

When sailors from Dutch ship Breskens are imprisoned by the Tokugawa shogunate, he plays an instrumental role in negotiating their release – known as the Nambu Affair.

Pieter Anthonisz: Overtwater / over ‘t Water (c. 1610 – Batavia, 28 April 1682) from Hoorn

He and Pieter Anthonisz: Overtwater / over ‘t Water (c. 1610 – Batavia, 28 April 1682) from Hoorn, incoming opperhoofd, journey to Edo to meet the shogun Tokugawa Iemitsu to negotiate the release of 10 Dutch prisoners.

Edo Castle [present-day Imperial Palace, Tokyo, Japan] (1868)

He confirms in the audience with the shogun at Edo Castle that the crew had been en route to the fabled Goud- en Zilvereilanden and that the expedition of Breskens was to open trade with Tartarije [Tartary].

Tokugawa Iemitsu / 徳川 家光 (12 August 1604 – 8 June 1651) – 3rd shōgun of the Tokugawa Dynasty

The Japanese relent but impose new, harsher restrictions on the Dutch who may continue to stay at Dejima but are denied right to fire any cannons off Japanese coastline without identification being given beforehand; are required to inform Japanese of any Catholics trying to enter Japan; and are again made to satisfy the Japanese that the United Dutch Republic remains the sworn enemy of the Catholic Portuguese.

The Dutch prisoners are released (24 December 1643) and made to prove to the visiting delegation that they did not celebrate Christmas in the same way as do the Catholics.

One further surprising condition is added: should any Dutch ship approach the Japanese coast, the opperhoofd must journey to Edo in person to explain its appearance.

Nicolaes Witsen`s famous map of Tartary

After promising to comply, Dutch are regaled with geisha over o-shougatsu (‘Japanese New Year’).

Nine months later Captain Hendrick Cornelisz: Schaep (1611-1647) and the crew return to Batavia armed with Japanese documentation which VOC can finally scrutinize and re-use for future benefits.

Jonathan Swift purportedly bases his Gullivers’ Travels on eventful voyage of Breskens.

Jonathan Swift by Rupert Barber (1745)

Appointed admiral of return fleet (18 January 1645), he returns to Patria.

He is succeeded (October 1642-August 1643) by Pieter Anthonisz: Overtwater / over ‘t Water (1610-1682) – the man instrumental in ensuring that Company slaves at the Cape of Good Hope be given Christian baptism.

Tokugawa Iemitsu / 徳川 家光 (12 August 1604 – 8 June 1651) – 3rd shōgun of the Tokugawa Dynasty

Tokugawa Iemitsu / Iyemitsu / 徳川 家光 (12 August 1604-8 June 1651)

3rd Tokugawa shogun of Japan (1623-1651) [imperial regnal era names (nengō): Genna (1615–1624), Kan’ei (1624–1644), Shōhō (1644–1648) and Keian (1648–1652)]

During his time as shogun, Jan Anthonisz: van Riebeeck (1619-1677) from Culemborg [Gelderland] – Cape of Good Hope’s 1st VOC commander (1652-1662) – serves (1641-1642) as surgeon (chirurg) on Dejima and the controversial Nambu Affair (1643) involving the arrest of the crew of the VOC ship Breskens takes place.

Eldest son of Tokugawa Hidetada and grandson of Tokugawa Ieyasu, he grows up with his childhood name Takechiyo (竹千代) with two sisters, Senhime and Masako, and a rival brother.

With his coming of age (1617), he drops his childhood name and becomes Tokugawa Iemitsu and designated heir to the Tokugawa shogunate.

From an early age, he practices ‘shudo’ [衆道 – wakashudō = ‘way of adolescent boys’) or nanshoku / danshoku (男色 ‘male colours’ – 色 ‘colour’ suggesting ‘sexual pleasure’] and falls out (1620) with his childhood friend, retainer and lover, Sakabe Gozaemon (aged 21), killing him as they share a bathtub.

When aged 19, his father abdicates in his son’s favour, continuing to rule as Ōgosho (‘retired Shogun’). He and his retired father visit (1626) Emperor Go-Mizunoo, Empress Masako (Hidetada’s daughter and Iemitsu’s sister) and the Imperial Princess Meishō in Kyoto, making lavish grants of gold and money to court nobles and the court itself but relations deteriorate after the Purple Clothes Incident (紫衣事件 shi-e jiken), during which the Emperor is accused of bestowing honorific purple garments to more than 10 priests despite an edict banning them for two years (to weaken the bond between Emperor and religious circles). The Shogunate intervenes outlawing the bestowing of garments. When his wet nurse and sister Masako break taboo by visiting the imperial court as commoners, Go-Mizunoo abdicates, embarrassed and Meisho becomes empress. The Shogun is now uncle to the reigning monarch.

Finally, he assumes real power (Kan’ei 9 [24th day of 2nd month] on his father’s death (1632) and the fear of his brother assassinating him, dissipates once his brother commits ritual suicide [seppuku – ‘happy despatch’] (1633).

Dismissing his father’s advisors and appointing his childhood friend, he creates a strong, centralized administration and introduces an effective rebellion-deterrent sankin kōtai system – whereby the daimyo are forced to reside in Edo with limited access to their home provinces and prevented from amassing wealth or power by incurring huge travel expenses by travelling with entourages to and from Edo while their wives and heirs remain ‘hostages’ in Edo.

There is an armed revolt (1637) against his anti-Christian policies in Shimabara (‘Shimabara Rebellion’). Thousands are killed in the revolt’s suppression and countless more executed afterwards.

During 1630s, he issues a series of edicts restricting Japan’s intercourse with the outside world. Japanese (since 1590s) travelling extensively in East and South-East Asia (and, in rare instances even further afield), are now forbidden from leaving the country or returning, under pain of death. Europeans are expelled from the country with the exception of those associated with the VOC being restricted to the man-made island of Dejima, in Nagasaki harbour.

Japan remains connected to international commerce, information and cultural exchange, though only through four avenues with Nagasaki being the centre of trade and other dealings with VOC and independent Chinese merchants while Kyushu-based Satsuma clan controls relations with the Ryūkyū Kingdom while the Tsushima clan handles diplomatic and trade relations with the Korean Joseon Dynasty and the Matsumae clan manages communications with the indigenous Ainu, people of Hokkaido. Although Japan is generally considered ‘closed’[sakoku 鎖国 – ‘chained country’), effectively only “maritime restrictions” [kaikin 海禁- ‘maritime restrictions’) are put in place.

Empress Meisho abdicates (1643) the throne and is succeeded by her younger half-brother (Go-Mizunoo’s son by consort) Emperor Go-Komyo, who dislikes the shogunate for its violent and barbaric ways repeatedly making insulting comments about Iemitsu and eldest son and heir, Tokugawa Ietsuna.

He dies (1651) aged 47 – the 1st Tokugawa shogun whose reign ends with the death and not the abdication and is accorded posthumous name of Taiyūin aka Daiyūin.

He is succeeded by his eldest son and heir, Tokugawa Ietsuna.

Jan Anthonisz: van Riebeeck (1619-1677)

Born in Culemborg, Gelderland

1st VOC commander at the Cape of Good Hope and previously leerlingchirurgijn (‘apprentice barber’) in Dutch West Indies Company (WIC) and Noordsche Compagnie serving in Dutch Brazil and Greenland;

Thereafter VOC surgeon and merchant at:

  • Deshima [Dejima 出島 ‘Exit Island’ – Nagasaki, Kyushu, Japan] (1643-1644),
  • Fort Zeelandia in Tainan [臺南縣] on Formosa [Taiwan] (1644-1645) and
  • Tonkin [Đông Kinh 東京 ‘Eastern Capital’ – Hanoi, Vietnam] (1646-1647)

but recalled to Patria with two months salary for participating in forbidden private trade;

After leaving the Cape of Good Hope, he serves as governor of Dutch-Malacca [Melaka, Malaysia] (October 1662-October 1665) and thereafter “secretaris van de Hoge Regering van Indië” in Batavia [Jakarta, Java, Indonesia] (1665-1677)

* 1st cousin to Anthony / Antonie / Antonio / Anton / Antonius van Diemen (1593 – 19 April 1645) – explorer and VOC Governor-General of the Dutch East Indies;

* father to Cape-born Abraham van Riebeeck – VOC Governor-General of the Dutch East Indies;

* ancestor to composer Daniel François van Goens (1858-1904).

Zuid-Africaansche Genootschap founded by Cape burgher and philanthropist Albertus van der Poel (1724-1806)

by Mansell Upham

Albertus van der Poel (1724-1806), the brother of my maternal great-great-great-great-granny Maria Elisabeth Zeeman, born Van der Poel, helps found (22 April 1799 the Zuid -Africaansche Genootschap – later known as the SA Sendinggenootskap [‘South African Society for the Advancement of Christ’s Kingdom’].

The Zuid-Africaansche Genootschap – later known as the SA Sendinggenootskap [`South African Society for the Advancement of Christ’s Kingdom`] – for the “uitbreiding van die Christus-ryk onder de onverligten in deze colonie en heydenen”, was founded (22 April 1799) in the house of Cape burgher and philanthropist:

Albertus van der Poel (1724-1806)

He is the 3rd eldest son of:

Jonas van Poel (1695-1756) and Sophia Myburgh (1702-1775)

paternal grandson of:

Pieter van der Poel (1667-1725) from Leiden and Johanna Viant / Vyandt / Vyant (1674-1714) from Amsterdam

maternal grandson of:

Jan Lambertsz: Myburg and Sophia Zank (from Cologne); and

maternal great-grandson of Lambert Lambertsz: Myburg (from Stavern in Norway) and Aeltje Hendricks: (from Pumerend in Noord-Holland;

He is husband to his 1st cousin once removed:

Hendrina Aletta Myburgh (1734-1812)

daughter of Albert Lammertsz: Myburgh and Elsje van der Merwe, maternal granddaughter of Schalk Willemsz: van der Merwe (from Broek / Outbeijerland) and Elsje Jacobs: Cloete (from Cologne).

His youngest brother Cornelis van der Poel (1734-1804) is Burger-Councillor and Chairman of 1st Cape Raad der Gemeente whose advocate son, Jonas van der Poel (1771-1812) dies one of the wealthiest men at the Cape and through whose heirs (his sister Anna Margaretha van der Poel (the widow Willem Hiddingh the elder) and her children (Susanna Cornelia, wife of W.F. Hertzog, Willem Hiddingh, Cornelis Hiddingh, Petrus Hofstede Hiddingh and Sophia Barbara Elisabeth Jamison), their many bequests help to initiate and consolidate intellectual and academic institutions in the Cape Colony and beyond of which the Hiddingh Campus of the University of Cape Town (UCT) is the most famous …

who marries (1stly)

Elsje Elisabeth Myburgh (1751-1772)

daughter of Johannes Albertus Myburgh and Sophia Margaretha Morkel

and marries (2ndly)

Susanna Smuts (1743-1840)

daughter of Michiel Smuts and Clara Anna Harting

The granddaughter of his sister Maria Elisabeth Zeeman, born van der Poel (1739-1835), Anna Wilhelmina Priem, born Ausserhoffer (1817-1893)

is the benefactor of the DRC Brakfontein Gemeente at Philadelphia who not only bequeaths (1887) a portion of her farm Brakfontein as a place of worship and a school, but also makes available her voorkamer for weddings for the socio-economic challenged mixed race Christian ‘Dune people’ living achter de Blaauw Berg and excluded from joining the recently established `whites only` DRC Philadelphia (consecrated 9 January 1864).

Brakfontein, near Philadelphia and Atlantis [Arthur Elliott Collection (Cape Archives)]

Widow Priem features as a fictional character in English and Afrikaans novels by C. Louis Leipoldt:

  • The Valley (a trilogy: Gallows Gekko, Stormwrack and The Mask);
  • Galgsalamander and
  • Die Masker)

and short story

  • Die Koei van die Weduwee Priem – featured in the anthology Die Rooi Rotte (1932).
C. Louis Leipoldt (28 December 1880 – 12 April 1947)

The South African Sendinggestig Museum aka South African Slave Church Museum established (1977), is situated in the centre of Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa and a province-aided museum which receives support from the Western Cape Province Government. The Museum is housed in one of the oldest indigenous mission churches in the country to be built by local Christians.

The Sendinggestig was not originally used for worship services. Instead people went there for prayer meetings, Bible studies or other religious and literacy classes. For this reason it was called a gestig or oefeninghuis rather than a church. Gestig is the Dutch equivalent of a “meeting house”.

Twenty years later it finally became a fully-fledged church. This congregation included the poor, Khoekhoen / Khoikhoi and slaves who converted to Christianity.

The historical interior of the church was also faithfully reproduced, including replicas of the wall-paintings discovered during the restoration process.

Since its construction the South African Gestig was closely linked to slaves. Slaves and free-blacks demolished (1801-1804) the existing house on the property and cleared the site. They built the walls with stones from the Vlaeberg quarry and bricks they made. Some assisted the carpenters working on the building while others painted its walls with lime wash made with slave labour. The front steps and floor were made from Robben Island slate. The roof used to be water-proofed with Whale oil.

After the Sendinggestig opened its doors (March 1804), slaves were encouraged to attend prayer meetings there. However, these prayer meetings could not be held at the same time as church services or inconvenience slave-owners.

The South African Mission Society was granted (1818) some land in Somerset Road to use as burial ground for converted slaves. Slaves that were buried there received a funeral service and dignified burial. Before this most slaves were buried in unmarked graves in Cape Town’s pauper burial sites.

The Emancipation of Slaves in the British Empire, which was implemented at the Cape (1838), caused an influx of people to Cape Town in search of work, and this led to the growth of the Sendinggestig.

Slave-owners were not keen to have their slaves baptised as Christian converts could not be sold. It was mostly freed slaves, then, who were baptised and who could then become members of the Dutch Reformed Church in South Africa (NGK). This led to the directors of SA Mission Society establishing their own congregation and called the SA Gesticht congregation of the SA Missionary Society.

In 1820 Jacobus Henricus Beck became its 1st minister.

On 24 December 1820 the 1st baptism was held at the Sendinggestig andn the following persons:

  • Domingo, slave of Mr Hammes,
  • Job, slave of Mr Stronck,
  • Arend, slave of the widow Pauelsen and
  • Durenda, slave of the widow Stegman,

became the 1st members of the congregation.

The stable-building behind the church was converted (1831) into a small double-storeyed home for the church’s caretaker.

The congregation began using the store next to the church as a school (1839). This school would operate (until 1917). The building was also used as a venue for the congregation’s church bazaars. The school was moved (1895) to the 2nd storey and different businesses rented the ground floor as extra income for the congregation. During the 1930s it served as the office of the African People’s Organisation.

From 1922 a well-known member of congregation, Anna Tempo (or Sister Nannie as she was commonly known), worked with women and girls living on Cape Town’s streets. She established the Nannie Girls’ Rescue Home as a shelter for them.

During the 1930s the SA Gestig church became the spiritual home for domestic workers who came to Cape Town from different rural areas.

In 1937 the SA Gestig congregation became part of the Dutch Reformed Mission Church and was supported by the South African Missionary Society until its dissolution (1983).

By 1954 only 520 members remained as people moved away to the suburbs to find work and due to urban racial segregation. Distance and economic circumstances made it difficult for members of the congregation to keep attending church in Cape Town.

By the end of the 1960s the buildings fell into disrepair, there were misunderstandings between the church council and directors of the SA Mission Society and uncertainty about the Group Areas Act. The church, old school and care-taker’s home were all sold to the Metropolitan Hotel (1971) with the provision that the congregation could use the church for another five years.

The SA Gestig congregation had to find a suitable piece of land for building a church in a “Coloured Group Area”. Until their new church was completed in Belhar, the congregation shared Cape Town’s St Stephens Church (1975-1978).

A special memorial service was held (31 August 1975), during which the congregation bid farewell to their original church in Long Street.

The new church in Belhar was inaugurated (1978). This would become the site where the Belhar Confession was produced.

During the 1970s, the S.A. Sendinggestig Museum was established as a result of an interest group advocating saving both the building and preserving the legacy of the Christian Missionaries in the then Cape Colony (Dutch).

The building was therefore bought for the purpose of establishing a museum, funded by the then Provincial Administration of the Cape of Good Hope. Additional funding for this project was raised by the Simon van der Stel Foundation, a local heritage conservation body, and members of the public.

The SA Sendinggestig Museum opened its doors (March 1979).

The theme of the museum is Christian missionaries and the impact the missionaries had on slaves and the indigenous people of South Africa. Exhibitions at the museum also carry themes about the history of the South African Gestig Congregation, the history of the museum building and Christian mission work and mission stations.

The former South Africa Gestig churchgoers, their families and museum staff members work together to ensure that the museum’s content becomes more representative.

In addition to this the museum hosts events aimed at the Youth and, via different communities promote social inclusion and cohesion. The museum also hosts activities linked to South Africa’s national days.